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2 Duo

(16k) Director: Suwa Nobuhiro
Photography: Tamura Masaki
Music: Andy Wulf
Sound: Takizawa Osamu
Cast: Yu Eri, Nishijima Hidetoshi, etc.
Producer: Sento Takenori, Kobayashi Koji
Production Company: Bitters End
10-5-101 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0031 JAPAN
Phone:81-3-3462-0345 / Fax: 81-3-3462-0621
JAPAN / 1996 / Japanese / Color / 35mm / 90 min

Why can't we call a fiction film a documentary? If most of us act in our everyday lives, what difference does it make that it's "only acting" in fiction? Suwa Nobuhiro seems to pose these questions in his feature debut, 2 Duo. Both a documentary director for television and a veteran assistant director to such fiction filmmakers as Nagasaki Shun'ichi and Yamamoto Masashi, Suwa wrote a detailed script for the film only to throw it away at the last instant. He decided to give his actors a short outline of the situation and leave the rest--including how the story would develop--up to them.
He--and thus we--are mere observers to the troubled love affair between Yu and Kei. The two talk, but never say anything. Yet their vacuous conversations have the bitter taste of reality to it. Given screen credit for the dialogue (there is no screenwriter listed for the film), the two young actors improvised their character's lines on the spot, creating a compelling cinematic depiction of a contemporary Japanese youth unable to express its own feelings, hiding its true emotions in a feel-good facade.
Suwa leaves his characters alone in part by allowing Tamura Masaki, the cameraman for Ogawa Shinsuke, to just follow their actions from afar. The long shot framing is imperfect and the camera movement often misses actions before reframing the characters, but that just feeds the impression that little has been planned beforehand.

Standing at a distance, perhaps Suwa felt unable to penetrate his characters' masks. To gain access to their subjective thoughts, he thus resorted to a technique common to documentary: the interview. It is at these moments when 2 Duo comes closest to being a documentary: a record of both its own making and of a generation unsure of its own reality.
--Aaron Gerow


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee